Book Notification

Colin Watson Books In Order

Book links take you to Amazon. As an Amazon Associate I earn money from qualifying purchases.

Publication Order of Flaxborough Chronicles Books

Coffin, Scarcely Used (1958)Description / Buy at Amazon
Bump in the Night (1960)Description / Buy at Amazon
Hopjoy Was Here (1962)Description / Buy at Amazon
Lonelyheart 4122 (1967)Description / Buy at Amazon
Charity Ends at Home (1968)Description / Buy at Amazon
The Flaxborough Crab (1969)Description / Buy at Amazon
Broomsticks Over Flaxborough (1972)Description / Buy at Amazon
The Naked Nuns (1975)Description / Buy at Amazon
One Man's Meat (1977)Description / Buy at Amazon
Blue Murder (1979)Description / Buy at Amazon
Plaster Sinners (1980)Description / Buy at Amazon
Whatever's Been Going On at Mumblesby? (1982)Description / Buy at Amazon

Publication Order of Non-Fiction Books

Snobbery with Violence (1971)Description / Buy at Amazon

Colin Watson was a mystery ad thriller author from Croydon, London that was best known for the “Flaxborough Chronicles” series of novels. The bestselling author was one of the best writers of his time even though he has largely been forgotten in the current times. Watson was a man known for his modesty, most likely because he grew up in humble settings, He was born in Croydon and went to Whitgift School that had been founded by the Archbishop of Canterbury in 1956 to offer medical care and education for the needy and poor from the Lambeth and Croydon parishes. In 1937, while he was but a teenager, he got a job at the “Boston Guardian” where he was a cub reporter. It was while he was working as a journalist in Lincolnshire and the small towns around the place that he got the inspiration he would later use in the making of his popular Flaxborough series. The town of Flaxborough is a composite of Boston and other small villages around it such as Horncastle and Sleaford. Watson published his debut novel “Coffin, Scarcely Used” in 1958, and never looked back since going on to write twelve titles by the time of his death in 1983.

Watson decided to take early retirement and went back to Folkingham in Lincolnshire, where he lived with his second wife Anne. According to reports, he spent much of his time enjoying photography, music and writing before he took up silverwork and lapidary. After publishing his last novel “Whatever’s Been Going on at Mumblesby?” He died in 1983. During the time, he was active as an author he had the respect of readers and critics. He was at two-time the winner of the CWA Silver Dagger in 1967 and 1962. Watson wrote many bestselling titles during this time that were said to have all the aspects that make for an excellent crime novel. While he has fallen out of fashion in recent times, that is not a reflection on his abilities as an author. On a more personal note, Watson was honored with a memorial in Folkingham that stands under an ancient tree in one of the oldest churches in town. Alongside the memorial is a quotation from the bible that asserts that a prophet does not find honor in his own house, among his kin, and in his own country. It is a sad reflection of how insignificant he seems to be to modern readers, as most people even in his hometown have never heard of his works.

Four of Colin Watson’s novels in the “Flaxborough Chronicles” were made into “Murder Most English” the television series made for the BBC. The adaptations were a successful reflection of the most loved elements of the novels. Some of these included the notion that crime is most often motivated by money, decoration of the plot using exotic trappings, the attack on the pretentious nature of some of the leaders of Flaxborough, and gentle but stubborn feel of a small town that refuses to move into the modern era. Purbright the lead in the novels was played by Anton Rodgers, Miss Lucilla Tea Time was played by Brenda Bruce and Detective Sergeant Love was played by Christopher Timothy. During the series run, Colin Watson wrote and published “One Man’s Meat” to provide some explanations on the happenings on the series. While for the most part, the novels are set in Boston in Lincolnshire, some scenes were filmed in Alford, also in Lincolnshire. “Bump in the Night” and “Charity Ends at Home” were also made into critically acclaimed plays that were aired on BBC Radio 4.

In Colin Watson’s “Coffin, Scarcely Used,” the small town of Flaxborough has been relatively homicide free for several years. As such, it is big news when Marcus Gwill the local newspaper owner is found dead, supposedly by electrocution near a high-powered electricity pylon behind his home. The authorities believe that he was accidentally electrocuted though Inspector Purbright believes otherwise. He thinks there might have been foul play involved and he finally convinces his Chief Constable to join an investigation into the murder despite his reservations. Could the death of Harold Carobleat the Councilor have been related to the Gwill death, even though the councilor’s death had been declared to be of natural causes. Both dead men had been great friends with other prominent people in town such as Rupert Hillyard the drink-sodden doctor, Jonas “Nab” Bradlaw the undertaker, and Rodney Gloss the lawyer. But there is also the matter of Gwill’s relationship with Joan the widow of the dead councilman. Things are even more complicated when it is discovered that Gwill had other sources of income apart from his local paper. Could he have been involved in some illegal activities despite his noble-looking appearance? The eve genial and self-effacing Purbright works hard and reveals a secret conspiracy and a layer of hypocrisy that is so appalling that they are lost for words.

Colin Watson’s “Bump in the Night” is set in the town of Chalmsbury, which has recently experienced a string of explosions that have taken down several landmarks and monuments. The police force has thus far failed to finger any suspects until they get detective inspector Purbright from Flaxborough. Since he has no roots or connections to anyone in town, he may be more capable of conducting investigations into the happenings. Hector Larch the police chief is married to the daughter of Councilman Pointer named Hilda. Local logistics kingpin Stan Biggadyke had been having an affair with Hilda and last year had gotten into a fatal accident, where a young woman had lost her life. Biggayke had always been a malicious fellow and even the local optometrist remembers his bullying ways when they both attended school as children. He is not the only bully in town as Larch also believes that the best way to get information from suspects is through bullying. Unknown to anyone is that Larch has been religiously attending civil defense training in the nearby town, where he is also an instructor in the handling of explosives. Meanwhile, a cache of explosives has disappeared and it is o enough quantity to explain the recent explosions. Purbright finds suitable accommodation in the town and from the colorful stories to adultery, hidden secrets, innuendo, and gossip sets a trap for the culprit.

“Hopjoy was Here” by Colin Watson opens to the detective inspector getting an anonymous letter. He is invited to the home of a townsman, where there have been bizarre happenings. When he gets to the scene, he finds that someone had been murdered, and dissolved in acid in a bathtub. Hopjoy and Periam were the two men that used to live in the house and none can now be found. However, Purbright gets some much-needed help when two special agents arrive on the scene and tell him that Hopjoy was a fed, and that they needed to ascertain if he was the dead man. So Purbright starts investigation even as he sets his men on the loose trying to find the killer and the remaining man. One of the men is found alive and well and on honeymoon oblivious of the happenings back home. But he presses on with his investigation as he is determined to ferret out all the details. What Purbright discovers is a disturbing tale of a vicious killer that would have gotten away with it had it not been for his persistence.

Book Series In Order » Authors » Colin Watson

Leave a Reply